Review: "The Good Catholic", A Rom-Com Searching For Faith And Love

Based on the very sweet true story of writer/director Paul Shoulberg’s parents, The Good Catholic tells the story of Father Daniel (Zachary Spicer), a young priest whose unwavering devotion to his faith is thrown into question one evening by a woman who comes to a late night confession. Between the stern and traditional Father Victor (Danny Glover) and the sarcastic and junk food-loving Father Ollie (John C. McGinley), Father Daniel finds himself spending more and more time with Jane (Wrenn Schmidt) during confessions that begin to feel more like dates. 

This movie was slow, not necessarily in a bad way, but in a very certain and determined way. The pacing makes sense for the story, but it is a very leisurely pace, often without any music. There are many quiet, deliberate silences, which is apt for a movie where many of the scenes take place in a church. I understood the choice but wasn’t a huge fan, personally.

While I liked the performances delivered by the actors, I didn’t find the characters terribly compelling. Daniel is interesting because you do see him struggling with his father’s death from one year prior, wondering if he feels the way he is supposed to feel about his faith and being a priest, and trying to reconcile the different and often contradictory advice of his older mentors. One of my favorite scenes is the one where he is on the phone with his mom, struggling with an emotional dilemma and still grieving all that he lost when his father passed. I had a hard time getting Jane, who comes to confession to tell a priest that she is dying and she’s not sure what to do about it. She is a clear a manic pixie dream girl, this sharp and witty beauty who brings the game Battleship into the confessional booth to play and is the singer in a band at a coffeeshop.

My least favorite thing about this movie was actually the characters portrayed by our bigger stars. Danny Glover plays such a fuddy-duddy, and this goes from “okay sure, he’s a very reserved priest who’s not here to party” to “why are you being such an A-hole you’re a priest?” during an emotional climax of the film. On the other hand, we have John C. McGinley, who will always be Dr. Cox to me, playing a character who will seem very familiar for those of us familiar with his work, and while he adds more heart to the story, I still found myself wanting just a bit more from this character. I’m also a fan of seeing actors play outside of their type, so this would’ve been more fun if the roles were switched, but of course I do understand why the casting went the way it did.

In general, the movie was fine, but it definitely didn’t need to be as long as it was, especially as it dragged out with the pacing, and the story itself wasn’t that compelling despite solid performances from the cast. It is a nice introspection on love and faith and friendship with a lot of potential that falls short because of the execution of the writing. I would not call it a romantic comedy at all, despite it being billed as such.

Rating: 2 out of 5